THIS will be a long week for legislators, as the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has released a schedule of sponsorship and floor deliberations that indicate the House will be conducting sessions until Friday in order to finish discussions on the P3.757 trillion 2019 national budget.
This was confirmed by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles, who in radio interviews yesterday said that his colleagues in Congress would be working overtime to ensure the timely passage of the budget.
“We may have started the deliberations a little late, na delay ng kaunti, but we will do what is necessary to finish the budget on time, even if it means working until the wee hours of the morning,” stressed the solon from Davao, who said that Congress adjourned past three in the morning yesterday because of budget deliberations.
The third-term legislator said he expects exhaustive discussions and debates on the budget, as the House was now in the stage where it was required to scrutinize the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by the Executive Department.
According to Nograles, “dito na po papasok yung role ng Congress na ano ba talaga yung mabuti para sa taong bayan.”
“Dun na po magkakaroon ng adjustments sa NEP; magiging general appropriations bill yan kasi ang Kongreso na po as the majority will decide where to put the money and what items will be funded,” he added.
The Appropriations chief said that debates about the budget were a part of the process that would allow legislators to propose amendments to the budget so that funding can be made available for agencies they believe require it.
“So ang reason bakit dinedebate is because kine-question yung pagallocate ng funds. So may magkequestion nun bakit dito, bakit dyan, bakit hindi dyan? Bakit dito? Bakit hindi dyan?”
“So, tatapusin po yung lahat ng debate at pag natapos po yung lahat ng debate dito na po tayo papasok sa period of amendments kasi isa-summarize po muna natin lahat ng mga napagusapan within the debate via motion,” explained Nograles.
For example, Nograles said, this was when legislators could move to restore the budget of the scholarship programs for college students in private universities under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) or to add funds for the country’s Sitio Electrification Program under the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
The CHED and NEA had earlier aired concerns about the cuts to their budgets, which would adversely affect their programs.
Nograles emphasized that the disagreements between legislators that stemmed from the budget deliberations were part of the process, and would not affect their ability to perform their functions.
“Meron pong debate talaga diyan. That is normal and that is the democratic process. Maganda ngang may debate kasi yan ang essence ng demokrasya,” said the lawyer turned legislator.
“We’re all professionals here. So mga trabahente po tayo. Tayo po ay public servants. Tayo po ay, sa Bisaya pa, suluguon. Mga utusan po tayo ng bayan. So I think let’s just work. Trabaho lang tayo para sa bayan.”